Opportunity knocks for UCT student’s scholarship to Yale
Opportunity doesn’t always come a-knocking, sometimes you have to set out in search of it yourself. This is what Elkanah Babatunde, who is currently pursuing his PhD in the UCT Faculty of Law, recently learned when an application completed in the nick of time landed him the illustrious Yale Fox International Fellowship.
“I really wanted to apply for one of UCT’s exchange programmes, but was struggling to find sufficient information,” Babatunde says.
A friend told him to visit the IAPO website and found the contact details for the programme officer of exchanges, Erin Pienaar.
“I told Erin I was interested in academic exchange programmes and if there was anything available now. She was really helpful and sent me the details of the Yale Fox International Fellowship. By this time, though, I only had a week – or something – to apply,” he recalls.
Having only recently submitted the proposal for his PhD, Babatunde fortunately had most of the documents at the ready and managed to complete his application just in time. His research will be looking at law and environmental security, focusing on the Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. An agreement which deals with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance.
Despite the heavy time constraints, Babatunde’s application was successful and he was selected UCT’s Fox Fellow for 2018/19.
“The most painful part of the process was probably compressing my 25-page UCT PhD proposal into 1 000 words,” he laughs.
Despite the heavy time constraints, Babatunde’s application was successful and he was selected UCT’s Fox Fellow for 2018/19. The Yale Fox International Fellowship Programme is hosted by the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale and was originally established to enhance mutual understanding between the United States and other countries.
It was started in 1988 by Mr Joseph Carrère Fox (Yale Class of 1938) as a way to provide a peaceful intellectual exchange between Yale University and Moscow State University.
UCT became a partner in 2005, one of only two institutions from Africa – out of a total of 16. Each year, scholars from the 16 institutions set off for Yale, while Yale sends its successful scholars out to the same institutions.
With research focusing on environmental security, in terms of the Paris Agreement and whether there is an African position on climate change, Babatunde will no doubt provide some substantial topics for debate and discussion.
“The US has just pulled out of the Paris Agreement because the presidency believes that it places too much burden on their country, while excusing others.
“So, perhaps my research will help to understand, first of all, how does the Paris Agreement work? And then, ultimately, how can it work better?”
“Although I love academics and teaching, I’m looking into pursuing environmental policy-making in Africa after the completion of my studies.”
With his background in law and a particular interest in the social implications of industrialisation on the African continent, Babatunde hopes to refine his research during the fellowship and develop skills that could benefit his career post-PhD.
“Although I love academics and teaching, I’m looking into pursuing environmental policy-making in Africa after the completion of my studies,” he says.
Babatunde will be setting off to the US in August to start the year-long fellowship programme.
Story by Nadia Krige. Photo by Lerato Mokhethi.